I really don't like hospital rooms, I know that's probably normal among people but there is something about the sterility of them that eats at me. They always seem to be too cold and clean, too temporary to have any real life in them. So it strikes me as odd that one of the most beautiful pictures I feel like I've ever taken was in one. Now it may not be beautiful in a traditional sense of the word or even perceived that way to very many people but to me it shows a life that may not have always been beautiful but one that was lived beautifully. A life that through immense hardships always showed courage and grace.
My grandmother, Dolores Lee (Jones) Boles went to be with our Lord on Saturday, March the 2nd, 2019. This coming just a year and a day after my fathers passing, as you can imagine it is a challenging time for my family. My mom asked if I could speak at her service, grandma wouldn't have wanted us to wait long, so we scheduled the service for the next afternoon.
I wasn't sure that I would be able to in all honesty as the emotional weight from the her passing and the anniversary of my fathers was bearing down. As I often do in times of trouble I opened my bible and started to read. I by chance (God took to the right spot) opened up to Proverbs and I began to read, the first verses my eyes went to were 10:4 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. I immediately knew that God as He always seems to do was speaking to me directly.
I honestly can't recall that I ever had a biblical or religious discussion with her but I can with 100% certainty tell you that she instilled in us that exact verse. I don't think there could be a more fitting one that I would have come across. She didn't tolerate laziness, period, and she wasn't shy about letting someone know either. I know one thing she hated in the last few years was her lack of mobility and her body failing her, she thought she was being lazy, especially when others had to do things for her.
As I read and re-read this verse and was contemplating what I would say to honor the life of a woman who although always was fair and just, was not always perceived as kind (for the lack of a word that I can adequately use). She's difficult to explain but I tried to do my best at her service. I struggle with the words because it's not that she wasn't kind but she didn't sugarcoat anything and sometimes the truth does hurt, but one thing she didn't waiver on was the truth. I respect that, especially as an adult. I sat down and was trying to put down in words all the things I was feeling and I came back across this picture, one that I had taken less than twenty-four hours prior. I thought to myself, those hands are battered and bruised right now but a story they could tell.
I probably acquired more of my personality traits from my Grandfather, Warren Lacy Boles than from my Grandmother or even my parents. My grandparents had an interesting relationship from the outside looking in as a child. She always struck me as so serious, no hair out of place or a wrinkle in her blouse, always early anywhere she went. He was, well a little more fun loving, a little more disheveled and usually had smile on his face and a cigar firmly inside it. Grandma worked her tail off and Grandpa, well he retired at 55 and although one of the hardest workers I've ever known, took a little more time to smell the roses so to say. I think maybe that's why although she and I clashed at times and had differences of opinions we always got along so well. Maybe I reminded her of him just enough that she let me get away with a little more than most. One the things that Grandpa and I shared a love of is taking pictures, now I can't imagine how much film he had developed in his life because he had a camera with him the majority of it. Thank God for technology, as I look down on my iPhone today and I have over 10k pictures saved and who knows how many more are on our iMac. I'll give the disclosure she would HATE that I showed this picture at her service and here online but as always I'll just have to agree to disagree with her because I think it's beautiful. I know for fact that Grandpa on more than one occasion took a picture of her that she would have said "I look like hell", that he would have thought was beautiful and put it in an album anyways.
Her hands show 81 years of age, bruised from an IV earlier in the week. Her DNR bracelet showing as clear as could be. She went into the hospital with a clear head and confidently signed a DNR because she was at peace with whatever may come. Her hands may not have worked as well as they once did, I know they hurt her most days which was immensely frustrating to her.
Those hands though were gentle enough to hold two daughters, four grandchildren, eight great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild. She always wanted to hold my babies, even if she would say things like "Well I think babies without hair are cuter" or "Your cousin was the most beautiful baby", maybe there is a compliment in there somewhere.
They were the hands she threatened to backhand me with a few times, but that would also wipe away my tears if the threat became a reality.
They were hands that worked harder than I can ever imagine. I will never forget her telling us she dug the trenches as a child in the 1940's when they first got indoor plumbing because they were so poor.
They were the hands that my Grandfather cherished to hold.
They were the hands that cooked sixty something Thanksgiving meals, partly because if anyone else helped they would probably do something wrong, she was pretty particular and probably right.
They were the hands that wrapped more Christmas presents than I can imagine, even if she used those hands to put cow patties in a box for my sister one year, she probably did deserve that one.
They were the hands that wrote down more numbers than I could count in her own company ledgers, for Gandy's, and for Texas National Bank.
They were the hands that wrote the checks that paid for my college tuition and to start my business, debts I could never repay.
They were the hands that held mine when the greatest two men I knew left this world.
They were the hands that through her toil created a better life for her family.
They were the hands that molded each of us like a potter molding clay.
As I was writing down my thoughts for her service a song kept going through my head, one I had written down lyrics to only a few days before to describe the last year after my fathers passing. As I read the lyrics internally I swelled up with tears and I thanked my God for her struggles and the hardships she had in life, because without them she wouldn't have been as strong and wise. She wouldn't have been able to teach me the lessons she did, even if I didn't appreciate them at the time. Her life is a constant reminder for me to never pray for an easier path, but to pray that God makes me stronger.
Life ain't always beautiful, but it's a beautiful ride.
-Richard Warren Fergeson